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Flooding Leaves Insidious Problem For Homeowners: Mold

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Flooded basements can lead to more than just the need to break out a shop vac to get rid of the water. The moisture can lead to mold growing in your walls. (Credit: CBS)

Flooded basements can lead to more than just the need to break out a shop vac to get rid of the water. The moisture can lead to mold growing in your walls. (Credit: CBS)

Dana Kozlov Dana Kozlov
Dana Kozlov is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. She...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Many homeowners in the Chicago area lost tens of thousands of dollars after this weekend’s record breaking storms.

Park Ridge resident Mark McMillan’s home was flooded with more than six inches of water, so he spent the weekend ripping out the floors and carpeting. His pricy collection of books and magazines was also soaked and now he’s ironing the pages, one by one, trying to save whatever he can.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, for many homeowners, using a shop vacuum and fan just isn’t enough. It might seem like a quick fix, but in the long run, it doesn’t take care of a bigger problem: mold. Neither will simply throwing out water-logged possessions that were soaked by the flooding.

Bridget Curry was battling an insidious post-flood problem – mold in the basement of her Oriole Park neighborhood home.

The water line along the drywall in her basement was more than a foot above the floor.

“It’s still wet. So this is gonna all have to come out,” Curry said.

The water likely came up through a floor drain in the basement, forcing her to throw out several bags worth of water-logged possessions and to call an expert for help cleaning up.

Brian Stack, owner of Midwest Environmental Remediation, came in to help clean up before the mold spreads.

“The main problem after things are thrown out are the walls itself,” he said.

Stack uses an infrared camera to check for moisture, which can lead to mold growth in as little as two to three days.

He said that just because you can’t see or smell the evidence of mold growth doesn’t mean it’s not growing.

“It’s microscopic, it floats in the air, it gets in your respiratory system and causes major havoc,” Stack said.

Experts say that, initially, mold containment is keyed by closing off the basement and sealing basement vents with 6-Mil plastic sheeting and painters’ tape. Homeowners also should run a dehumidifier, blow air out a basement window and keep upstairs windows open.

“If you can do a good water cleanup fast, your health and dollars ahead, it’s unbelievable,” said certified Healthy Homes Specialist Larry Schwartz.

Experts also said that, contrary to what many people believe, simply using bleach to clean up flooded basements doesn’t prevent mold problems and could pose bigger health problems down the line because of the fumes from the bleach.

The best thing to do after a bad flooding problem is to call an expert to help with the cleanup.

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